Early Pandemic Days Were Worse for High Blood Pressure

According to a new study, those with high blood pressure had an increase in their levels during the early stages of the pandemic because they were less likely to take care of their condition.

Researchers discovered that before the pandemic, people were more consistently maintaining their blood pressure. Their findings were published on Tuesday in the journal Hypertension. But during the first eight months of the public health emergency, a 3.43 percentage point decline in the proportion of people with regulated blood pressure was seen.

The pre-pandemic health data of 137,593 individuals were compared to those obtained from April to November 2020 by the researchers. Major medical facilities in Los Angeles, New York City, and New Orleans provided the data.

The National Institutes of Health released a news release that summarised the study’s results. The proportion of patients with persistent blood pressure readings of less than 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mmHg), the commonly used marker for high blood pressure, was also examined by the researchers, along with individual blood pressure readings. Systolic readings for the patients increased by an average of 1.79 mmHg in the top number, while diastolic readings climbed by an average of 1.30 mmHg in the bottom number. Even a 2 mmHg rise in blood pressure can increase the risk of major cardiovascular events by as much as 5%, despite the fact that these increases appear to be minor.

According to main author Hiroshi Gotanda, MD, PhD, “a tiny rise like that at a population level might have a big effect, sometimes leading to an increase in heart attacks and stroke.”

However, the researchers also discovered some good news in the findings, attributing the avoidance of even worse outcomes to telemedicine and technology.

Given the decline in physical activity, increased stress, lack of sleep, and other cardiovascular disease risk factors that grew worse during the pandemic, Gotanda said, “we anticipated blood pressure control to be worse.” “However, the outcomes were better than we anticipated, perhaps as a result of the utilisation of telemedicine and home blood pressure monitoring.”

Only one in four American people who have hypertension, or high blood pressure, have their condition under control, according to the CDC. According to the CDC, hypertension was either the leading cause of or a contributing factor in more than 670,000 fatalities in the United States in 2020.

Gotanda, a practising physician as well as an assistant professor at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California, stated that “we now know that blood pressure may be relatively regulated utilising technology.” That’s a crucial lesson to remember for when we meet future public health emergencies.

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